Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is such a frequent liar, if you don’t have time to figure out whether he’s telling the truth on a given matter, the safest bet is to just assume he’s lying. But today something rare and remarkable happened – McConnell admitted the truth for once. We award him no points for his honesty, as it’s really just part of his strategy in this instance. But what he said is nonetheless important.
Last night Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi revealed that she’s going to wait and see whether the Senate impeachment trial is going to be set up in a fair manner, before deciding whether to even send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. This means that if Mitch McConnell wants to hold a Senate trial, he’ll have to make at least some trial concessions to Pelosi. When McConnell took to the Senate floor this morning for one of his famous whining sessions, he said that he doesn’t really want to hold a trial anyway. He was telling the truth.
McConnell gains nothing by going through with a Senate impeachment trial, no matter how he approaches it. He can’t gain any 2020 votes for Donald Trump, even if he acquits him. More importantly for McConnell, if he’s seen as handling the trial in a corrupt or craven manner, moderate voters could punish him and the Republican Senators in 2020. So it’s important that McConnell is finally admitting that he’s never wanted to have to deal with this impeachment mess.
The trouble for Mitch McConnell is that, based on his actions, Donald Trump very much does want a Senate impeachment trial. Predictably, the House impeachment process didn’t somehow magically help his 2020 prospects. Trump is just as out of contention in the 2020 race as ever. Being acquitted by the Senate won’t gain him any 2020 votes either, but because he’s running out of options, he has to at least try to somehow spin an acquittal into additional 2020 votes.
Regardless of what Donald Trump might be saying in public, you can bet that he’s leaning hard on Mitch McConnell behind the scenes to find a way to hold a Senate impeachment trial. McConnell doesn’t want to do it. But he’s going to have a hard time fending off Trump, who tends to eventually start publicly attacking his own allies if they go long enough without giving him what he wants. McConnell now has to find a way to make Trump and Pelosi happy at the same time – and good luck with that